US Labor Department orders Calabasas private aviation provider to pay $958K to former worker who suffered retaliation for reporting safety concerns
LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Department of Labor has ordered a California business aviation provider to pay $958,000 in back wages and associated costs, and correct misinformation about a former employee who the employer retaliated against after they reported flight safety issues.
Investigators with the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that – after a former employee of Pegasus Elite Aviation Inc. in Calabasas reported safety issues that led to an onsite inspection – the company sent a falsified and negative Pilot Records Improvement Act report to the worker’s new employer, violating the whistleblower provision. The report led to the employee’s termination.
OSHA also found Pegasus Elite Aviation provided falsified information to the Federal Aviation Administration that contributed to the agency’s decision to suspend the former employee’s pilot certificates.
The investigation compelled OSHA to order Pegasus Elite Aviation to pay more than $898,000 in back wages and associated costs, $50,000 in emotional damages and $10,000 in attorney’s fees.
“The U.S. Department of Labor will enforce the protections afforded to airline workers who do what’s right and raise their safety concerns,” said OSHA’s Regional Administrator James D. Wulff in San Francisco. “No matter the industry, every worker has the right to report safety concerns of any kind without fearing retaliation.”
In addition to the monetary penalties, Pegasus Elite Aviation must send a letter of correction to the FAA and other employers who received the falsified report, removing the derogatory information. The company may appeal the order to the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of AIR-21 and 24 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, motor vehicle safety, healthcare reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities, tax, antitrust, and anti-money laundering laws and for engaging in other related protected activities. For more information on whistleblower protections, visit OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs webpage.
Editor’s note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints